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EuropaCity: Paris's BIG green little brother


April 18, 2013

BIG's EuropaCity grand plan (Image: BIG)

BIG's EuropaCity grand plan (Image: BIG)

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Plans are afoot to build a high tech mini-city outside the city of Paris, France. Like all good grandstanding architectural schemes, the task of designing a 0.8-sq km (0.3-sq mile) retail, leisure and culture park was put to a competition. This was won by a team including Bjarke Ingels Group (aka BIG) which has outlined its vision for a mixed use, green-roofed development dubbed EuropaCity, which looks something akin to a crashed, overgrown UFO.

The development is planned for an "exceptionally well connected" site between Paris and the nearby Roissy, close to Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The pretty computer renderings provided by BIG suggest EuropaCity will be big, round, green and undulating. Imagine an out-of-town shopping center with an enormous park on the roof and tucked into the ground at strategic places. Do that, and you'll have a near-perfect vision of EuropaCity in mind. (Or you could be a spoilsport and look at the pictures.)

That roof meets ground at opposite ends of the development ensures that a verdant corridor connects the green fields to either side, as well as carving a clear line of site from those fields into Paris itself. It's a clever piece of master-planning.

The "EuropaCity" name comes from five distinct zones which will each be themed according to regions of Europe. BIG describes these as EuropaCity's answer to La Rambla, Regent Street and the Champs-Elysées. (Clearly, Europe is in need of more famous streets to complete the analogy.)

The plan is for each of the five regions to use a different source of renewable energy. World Architecture News reports that a combination of geothermal, bio-fuel and solar energy will be used across the site, which sounds a rather more considered approach.

EuropaCity will be encompassed by a pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly circular avenue, alongside some form of electrified public transport. BIG's renderings suggest an on-rails system with individual pod-like carriages for families and small groups.

It will also include a development-wide heat management system that will put recovered waste heat to use, warming swimming pools and the like. Similarly, it's intended that waste water will be captured to irrigate the parks and green areas.

BIG's press release states that EuropaCity "combines dense city with open landscape, exploring the urban and green potentials of the site at once." The theme of merging the urban and the rural occurs time and time again in architectural press releases, but looking at BIG's design, there might actually be something to it on this occasion.

Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec, Michel Forgue were the other members of the winning design team. Beyond the result of the competition, it isn't clear how the project will progress, if it progresses at all.

Update 04.19.2013: And as if to demonstrate the fragility of plans in the formative stage, BIG has dropped us a line to let us know that the five zones are no longer a part of the design.

Sources: BIG, World Architecture News

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

EuropaCity looks nice. Does it also change the local climate? I bring it up because in looking at rendering three, there are PALM fronds blowing in the wind. I don't remember ever seeing palm trees around Paris. I always wonder why do these firms do ridiculous things like this in their presentations.


I think it is great to see that many big cities are turning their strategy from becoming the most desired financial and commercial centers to something more pleasant and important for their actual citizens. Paris is a headliner in Europe, but we have some really interesting projects on the Western Hemisphere as well. I would name Vancouver and its Go Green City Plan.

It looks like sustainability, green economy, and new technologies are finally being considered in a long-term planning, which is great.

Laura S.

re; yrag

Haven't you heard all that AGW that isn't happening is going to turn Paris into a tropical city.

They could be big potted plants that will be brought in for the winter.


re; Laura S.

Jobs are important to the residents of the city that pay for everything.

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